Vintage Typewriters: Restoring Those Whatchamacallit Parts


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After extensive research and finally finding a unique vintage typewriter that you absolutely fell in love with, you discover that a little repair work is needed on your priceless find. After reading several resources that gave you step by step, simple “do-it-yourself" restoration instructions, you think it shouldn’t be difficult to make these minor mechanical repairs. A little touch up paint here, a little polishing there and your initial clean up is done; or so you thought. You look at those foreign parts you’ve taken out and realize that it wasn’t as simple to put them back in as you contemplated. Now what do you do?

Aha! You found a diagram listing all of those wonderful components that should make your cleaning and restoration project a snap! As you scan across the diagram, surely one out of these 28 parts is the “key" to your dilemma.

1. Stencil lever
2. Color change lever
3. Back spacer
4. Right shift key
5. Space bar
6. Left shift key
7. Shift lock
8. Margin release
9. Line space lever
10. Left cylinder knob
11. Line space selector
12. Ratchet release
13. Paper table
14. Marginal adjustment scale
15. Card holder bail
16. Card fingers
17. Hand ribbon reverse
18. Left ribbon spool
19. Center stops
20. Marginal stops
21. Paper location scale
22. Carriage location scale
23. Right ribbon spool
24. Right cylinder knob
25. Carriage release
26. Paper release
27. Paper alignment scale
28. Carriage location pointer

At this point it is perfectly normal to admit that you are a bit overwhelmed. Unless you are mechanically inclined, I would suggest that you check out your local repair shops to find a reputable restoration specialist. During the earlier years of the typewriter’s heyday, the operator was expected to maintain the machine and keep it in good working condition. Many typewriters came equipped with a cleaning kit and/or instructions on how the machine should be kept free from dust and dirt. Keeping the typewriter oiled was also an important maintenance procedure.

Depending on the extent of time, parts and work involved with service and maintenance of your vintage typewriter, the cost could range from low to a pricey bill. Unless you are up to the task of disassembling, cleaning parts, oiling, dealing with ribbon spools, handling motor tension and adjustments, then successfully be able to reassemble your vintage typewriter, its best to leave the intricate repair work up to the specialists and experts. The last thing you need is to loose your mind over all of those unidentifiable whatchamacallit parts.

Kym Gordon Moore is fascinated with writing implements, machines and other objects that contributed to the progression of the art of writing. Many of her articles, essays, short stories and poems appeared in a variety of magazines, newspapers, ezines and anthologies. She is a member of the North Carolina Writer’s Network with over twenty six years of corporate and personal writing experience. As a public relations strategist for budget conscious new authors, she coordinates creative marketing packages for her clients.


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